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Communication overhead for space science applications on the Beowulf parallel workstation

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5 Author(s)
Sterling, T. ; Center of Excellence in Space Data & Inf. Sci., NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA ; Savarese, D. ; Becker, D.J. ; Fryxell, B.
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The Beowulf parallel workstation combines 16 PC-compatible processing subsystems and disk drives using dual Ethernet networks to provide a single-user environment with 1 Gops peak performance, half a Gbyte of disk storage, and up to 8 times the disk I/O bandwidth of conventional workstations. The Beowulf architecture establishes a new operating point in price-performance for single-user environments requiring high disk capacity and bandwidth. The Beowulf research project is investigating the feasibility of exploiting mass market commodity computing elements in support of Earth and space science requirements for large data-set browsing and visualization, simulation of natural physical processes, and assimilation of remote sensing data. This paper reports the findings from a series of experiments for characterizing the Beowulf dual channel communication over-head. It is shown that dual networks can sustain 70% greater throughput than a single network alone but that bandwidth achieved is more highly sensitive to message size than to the number of messages at peak demand. While overhead is shown to be high for global synchronization, its overall impact on scalability of real world applications for computational fluid dynamics and N-body gravitational simulation is shown to be modest

Published in:

High Performance Distributed Computing, 1995., Proceedings of the Fourth IEEE International Symposium on

Date of Conference:

2-4 Aug 1995